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Can You Run A Nitro RC Car In The Winter?

If you have recently purchased a nitro RC car then you may be wondering if you can use it in the winter. Afterall it uses fuel and a much different engine than battery powered RC cars so will a nitro engine work properly in the colder temperatures?

Nitro RC cars can be used in the wintertime but there are additional risks. For example the outer shell gets more brittle in colder temperatures so it is much more likely to break if you jump your car. There are also some important precautions that must be taken when using your RC car in the winter. 

Taking precautions and carrying out proper maintenance practices after each use will ensure your RC car stays in perfect condition. In the rest of this article we will be talking about those precautions and other things you should do to use your nitro car in the winter season. 

For one specific thing that you should always do in the winter check out this video below. 

What You Should Know About Using Your RC Car in the Winter

Racing your nitro RC car in the winter will mostly result in  brittle plastic and rubber parts especially if you are in the parts of the country or world where temperatures get to below freezing. 

The reinforced plastic used on most RC cars will likely become brittle in lower temperatures, and depending on how much fiber is used, among other things, the likelihood of this happening is even greater. Using alloy parts instead of plastic during the winter season can help to curb this problem of brittleness. However, keep in mind that alloy may have other cons since they tend to bend rather than break.

In addition, with cold temperatures, oils and grease begin to thicken up. If you notice that the oil in the dampers is getting thick, you might want to use thinner oil until spring.

 For example, if you successfully used a 40WT oil during warm weather, you should probably use a 20WT oil during the cold weather. You can also change the differential and transmission greases if needed. However, these would normally get thinner after the first few minutes when the nitro engine starts heating up the chassis and the things attached to it.

This also applies to the oils that are part of the model fuel, which will also begin to thicken when close to sub-zero temperatures. Make sure to always store your fuel away from frosty temperatures.

Additional Tips For Nitro RC In Winter

  • To prevent cold air from getting to the nitro engine, put tape over the openings of the fuel tank.
  • You might have also noticed that starting your nitro engine during the cold weather can be quite tough. This is because the different materials of piston and liner which expand or shrink at different rates make the nitro engine clamp or even lock when the temperatures are very low. This is especially the case when you’re starting a brand new engine that has never run before.
  • Storing your nitro vehicle in the warmth of your car until the very last minute before you will be starting the engine can help to solve this problem as it ensures that the components of the engine stay at a certain temperature.
  • Using a hairdryer or heat gun to heat up the crankcase and heatsink of the engine is also a good idea. You will notice immediately that a pre-warmed engine fires up a lot more easily than a cold one. But, the warm-up period will take a little longer, and the engine may generally run at lower temps compared to what you had during the summer. You can also choose a hotter glow plug since the cold temperatures may have an effect on the glow plug when it comes to their ability to ignite the fuel/ air mixture.
  • Ensure that the nitro engine runs at the proper temperature of between 105 to 110 degrees Celcisu on the glow plug.
  • Don’t lean the fuel mixture too much so the engine can get some heat. It’s ideal to cover the venting holes in the body with tape or wrap a thin aluminum tape around the heatsink’s upper parts to save it from the cold air stream.
  • Always use a good after-run oil to protect the engine and the carburetor after use.
  • Another thing you can expect to experience in cold temperatures is weaker batteries. Now is the time to put away those dry cell battery holders that came with your radio or RTR car and use a proper five cell pack with soldered single cells instead. This will provide more safety and better performance. Ensure too that you’re using good quality connectors.
  • Use spray oil (WD40) on all the metal parts and suspension components before and after use to prevent rust. This will also make cleaning easier.
  • Also, ice and snow can harm the electronics of your car as well as the unprotected metal parts on your chassis, suspension, and drivetrain. Parts like bearings, hinge pins, driveshafts, screws, and a lot more can quickly rust the chassis if it is stored wet and without cleaning. Dust and mud can also let moisture stick to metal parts for a longer time leading to rust, which may harm the metal parts.
  • If your car comes in an RC box, all you need to do is just seal the lip with some silicone. Also, thoroughly clean your car beforehand and spray the suspension parts with a thin oil like WD40. Use a thick paintbrush to clean off excess oil. The light oily covering will make it tougher for moisture and dirt to stick to the chassis and suspension. This will make cleaning easier and prevent rust on metal parts. Afterwards clean and dry the car with a paint brush and hairdryer, use the oily paintbrush to wipe all parts of the suspension just to make sure they are all safe from rust during storage. Remember that it’s not ideal to store your RC car in a cold or damp garage. Always store in a warm but well-ventilated area.
  • You can also use special water protected receivers, servos, speed controls, etc. provided by the industry to protect your nitro RC during rain, snow, or ice.. You can wrap the casing of your servo with electrical insulating tape to keep water out as well if you choose. 

Keeping the Temperature High

Getting the engine up to temperature is not easy when racing your nitro RC during winter. Purchasing a second-hand heat sink and removing a number of the cooling ribs can help the engine keep its temperature during the coldest months. Also, you can put a ring made of paper towels and duct tape over the heat sink to keep the cold air off. Try to use this ring to adjust the temperature of the engine and don’t lean the fuel mixture too much to keep the engine’s temperature high because this can make the carburetor setting too lean and destroy your engine.


You can definitely run your nitro RC car in the winter but there are many steps that you should take to keep it running at the optimal temperature as well as running properly. You also have to be careful about the plastic becoming more brittle as well as the oil in the car and in the fuel thickening up causing further issues. 

Ultimately only you can decide if all of the work is worth using your nitro RC during winter or if it is better to just stick to a battery powered car in winter and break out the nitro model once the coldest temps are over.